This category contains the intention-setting ideas from the monthly newsletter.

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Move Through Depression

National Depression Education & Awareness Month!

As we move into the 8th month of learning to live with the Covid-19 virus, many of us continue to struggle with symptoms of depression emanating from the physical distancing and the many other losses we have experienced, including amongst others the loss of loved ones, loss of employment, inability to be with loved ones when they are sick or in the hospital, inability to give and receive hugs, and the changes to regular pleasurable activities that might have included going to the movies or taking an in-person yoga class with our favorite teacher.

There are many positives that are occurring during this time too, yet it can be difficult to focus on them when caught in the throws of depression.  As my husband has been known to say “Not every day can be a home run”, it’s when more days than not that we feel like we struck out that becomes concerning.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, “Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S.” There is no one cause for depression, yet it often stems from family history, major life changes, trauma, and/or stress, biological or other environmental factors.  It impacts all people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity or gender, although prevalence rates are highest amongst adults identifying as two or more races.

Depression is typically treated with a combination of psychotherapy, medication and brain stimulation therapies.

Below I provide intention-setting ideas that might prove helpful to you or your loved ones when moving through depression:

  1. Breathe.  Try Breath of Joy each morning.  Standing with your feet a little wider than your hips, arms by your side to start.  Take a 3-part inhale, raising both arms out in front of you on the first part of the inhale, moving both arms out to the sides at heart level on the second part of the inhale, and raising both arms to the sky on the third part of the inhale (YES, like you are conducting an orchestra), and then, as you exhale open your mouth, make a loud sighing out noise, as you swing your arms down along the sides of the body, fold the body over towards the ground while bending your knees.  Repeat these steps while taking 3-5 more breaths.  Afterwards, come back to standing with your arms along your sides, drawing your awareness to your hands, becoming aware of any sensations that might be present, while allowing your breath to return to a natural rhythm.  Sense into how you can feel your energy moving!
  2. Set One Daily Goal.  Make one goal that is especially meaningful to you.  Start out small, knowing you can grow it if and when you are ready.  Perhaps it is to make your favorite cup of tea in the morning and allow yourself 15 minutes (or more) to simply sit and enjoy drinking it.  Or perhaps it is to use your mala or prayer beads to allow yourself to sit for 5-10 minutes saying your prayers first thing in the morning or the last thing before bed.  Or it might be to read your favorite book or read the book that you have been meaning to read, but haven’t gotten to.  And, the most important part is to give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish your goad and NOT beat yourself up when you don’t.  Be kind to yourself and simply set the goal again for the next day.  Maybe the goal changes to simply be kind to myself!
  3. Be active.  Exercise not only moves our body but also moves our e-motions (energy in motion).  So, although it may be difficult or even feel impossible on some days to get up and move, moving helps!  Walking as little as 15 minutes a day can help shift our energy and release some of the weight of depression.  Gentle yoga is perhaps another option to try and, thanks to the pandemic, you don’t even need to leave the house to attend a virtual class.
  4. Reach out.  The symptoms of depression tend to encourage us to withdraw and stay isolated, thinking that we don’t want to burden others with what we are going through.  However, being with others helps us feel better and is one of the best coping strategies for moving through depression.  And we don’t always have to put on our “happy mask” either.  When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and share our experiences, often we discover we are not alone in our challenges and, through sharing, we validate not only our experiences but the experiences of others.  Humans were designed to feel good when helping others, so allow others to help by listening to us when we are not having one of those “home run” kind of days.
  5. Gratitude journaling.  Practicing gratitude has been shown to increase our sense of peace and happiness.  Again, when trying to identify what you might be grateful for, think small.  This is another practice that will begin to grow as you continue to practice it.  Some of the most mundane, routine things might begin to look and feel differently when sprinkled with gratitude.  My most favorite items to add to my journal are:  running hot water, a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head, and my furbabies who love me no matter what!  I’d love to hear back from you what some of your favorites might be!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Destigmatize Mental Health Challenges

Psychotherapy Day – September 25th

It might appear as an act of self-promotion, yet my intention is to share research, wherever and whenever possible, so everyone might move forward making more informed decisions when it comes to their own health, mind, body and spirit!

Psychotherapy works, especially when there is a genuine connection and deep understanding of the root causes to health challenges.  And that deep understanding grows from the knowledge that it is not what is wrong with you, but what happened to you!

As I share again in this month’s Blog (see below), the research is unequivocal when showing the link between what happened to us (mental health) and the leading causes of morbidity and mortality (physical health).  So, if we truly want to have a healthier world, we need to start with a focus on the mind and, if we do, the body will follow.  This focus on the mind – and what traumatizes it – is the only way to break the transgenerational transmission of what ails the world.

Below I provide intention-settings idea to start to destigmatize mental health challenges to help shift the collective healthcare mindset from treating the long-term physical effects of trauma to prevention by inviting in more nurturing, compassion, understanding, belonging and acceptance into our lives:

  1. TALK about Mental Health.  Do you remember the last time a conflict was resolved by silence?  Neither do I!  The only way to truly bring about collaboration and community is to talk things out.  The act of talking takes courage and strength as it also requires us to listen deeply and with curiosity.  Our minds want to make sense of the world, even when experiences may not be logical – we are meaning making vibrational beings.  And often what makes the vibrations uncomfortable are the emotions of relationships.  Human beings are wired for connection to others, as the pandemic has so clearly laid bare for us to feel.  It is only when we can hold our relational emotions alongside of the rational thoughts that meaning mine opens wide for us to look into for the gold.  Sometimes this is impossible to do without the support of another, who can welcome and hold the emotions with us, making space for the light.  So it is my hope that all of us can set an intention to talk openly about our mental health, without shame, to remind us that we are not alone in our struggles.
  2. WRITE/BLOG about Mental Health.  For those that are active on social media, I encourage you to set an intention to write or blog (or even vlog) about a small piece of your story, remembering that it is what happened to you, so you may begin to shine the light on any shame that you might be carrying.  I like to compare shame as Toxic Mold that grows and thrives (and slowly kills) in the dark.  If the light can reach it, it dies.  When writing/sharing our stories, we are opening a window to let the light shine in and let the shame out.  Remember the shame is not yours and no longer needs to be carried!
  3. Volunteer for Mental Health. If you always felt a heart tug to volunteer, yet haven’t found the “just right” organization or cause, perhaps consider mental health.  As a starting point, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness or Mental Health America websites for more information.  Support is needed in all walks of life and all stages of life.
  4. Donate for Mental Health.  If you find that you don’t have the time to volunteer right now, perhaps you might consider a financial donation.  You might even look into whether or not your company might match your donation, as many organizations have such programs.  Any energy expended with intention creates ripples in the universe far beyond what the human eye can see or mind can know, so every little bit counts!
  5. Read/Share Research on Mental Health.  And last but certainly not least (and my favorite!) is read the research!  And, after reading it, share it!!  Remember the old Faberge Organics Shampoo commercial with Heather Locklear where she shared her experience with two friends . . . who shared it with two friends . . . etc., perhaps we can replicate that today by sharing something vitally important to the health of the world. It is this intention that might have the greatest impact on cutting short the public mental health crisis we have been challenged by for so many years.  The research is crystal clear – work with the mind first to prevent diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Foster Peace

International Peace Month!

August was designated International Peace Month back at the time that the First World War ended, specifically on August 16, 1926, at the Democratic Peace Conference in Germany.  As time continues to pass along with the heroes of that time, it it critical that new generations are educated about the unthinkable tragedies that grew from that conflict, to learn the lessons in order to build a strong foundation of peace and avoid repeating the same mistakes that led to the Great War.

I am not a history teacher, yet I do honor our ancestors that fought so hard for peace.  Therefore, below I am offering intention-setting ideas to foster peace (inside and out) so that we all may do our small parts.  I hope you will consider trying one!

  1. Study history.  Consider reading a book on this Great War to better understand the worldwide devastation and how it changed Western culture.  It is vital that the world does not forget the devastating effects of the war.  Some books to consider include:  All Quiet On the Western Front by E.M. Remarque, Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb; The Great War And Modern Memory by Paul Fussell; The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman; and/or Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo.
  2. Social media.  If you use social media, perhaps include #InternationalPeaceMonth in all of your posts this month.  See what response you might get and perhaps offer a bit of education if anyone asks why you included it your post.
  3. Peace tree. A lot of us are finding ourselves in our gardens more during this pandemic, so consider planting a peace tree.  You might plant it in honor of our war veterans in general, or perhaps a specific one.  I recently learned that my grandfather fought in the Great War, so this is my intention this month.
  4. Explore a current conflict.  Perhaps you do this with your child or a friend or significant other.  Some questions to get you started on the journey of exploration might include “Whose point of view is expressed in the story?” and “What other voices or points of view are missing?” Brainstorm what you both think the other voices that are missing would likely say.
  5. Local heroes.  Our local CBS talk/news AM radio station (KNX) highlights a local hero of the week.  Recently, it was my neighbor’s greyhound who donated blood for other animals in need.  It always warms my heart to hear these stories.  Consider discussing local heroes who promote peace with someone you love.  Examples might be medical personal, teachers, and rescue workers.  Share how these people play a part in the peace process.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support Racial Equity

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month!

As I continue to ride the waves of so many mixed emotions – pain, hope, rage, compassion, fear, love, shame, humility, sadness, gratitude, discomfort – I try to remind myself of my own humanity, flawed and limited yet filled with a desire to contribute to positive change.  In the light that is being shined on recent events, reflecting the depth and breadth of systems of oppression and racism, it is critical to highlight National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and honor the fact that Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) experience unique struggles in regards to maintaining mental health when experiencing disproportionate inequities.

“I can’t breathe”.  As a human and a yogi, these words struck deep in my soul.  Breath is one of our most basic human rights – the right to life – and it is one of the vital yoga practices to attaining inner peace.  The pain and sadness I felt when I heard those words was indescribable and I can only imagine what it felt like within BIPOC communities.  As a white woman, I carry the collective shame that comes from knowing my roots grew from the toxic soils that fostered such inequities.  I am grateful for the light that shines on this shame.  The dialogues and actions that have arisen from the growing awareness and acknowledgement of ongoing social injustices bring me humility and hope.

I am sitting with my own discomfort knowing that it is required for transformation.  It is often when the pain becomes unbearable that action emerges.  So when I see and hear how white allies are moving into action to partner with the courageous BIPOC to expand awareness and understanding of the need for inclusivity, equity, and accessibility, it fills my heart with love and compassion.  Love as the fuel for the courage and compassion for the collective suffering.

I also recognize that at times my fear overwhelms me and I feel helpless, not knowing what the right thing to do is in the moment.  Not wanting to offend or unconsciously show my white privilege, I sometimes want to withdraw and not do or say anything.  It is in times like these that I remind myself that inactivity breeds fear and shame.  I want to be a part of the dialogue and the solution, not part of the problems.

If you too have been experiencing emotional effects of the violence and injustice, I humbly provide the following intention-setting ideas that can be put into action now to support personal growth and collective change.  I encourage leaning in with an open heart and mind:

  1. Look within.  Transformational shifts start with each individual welcoming and embracing their shadow side.  Unless we actively work to make the unconscious conscious, we will be continually motivated to act from the shadow.  When our unsettling behaviors create conflict – within ourselves or with others – it is an invitation to take a journey of exploration within our inner landscapes.  It is important to be kind to ourselves on this journey, so when powerful emotions such as anger and shame present themselves, we can simply invite them to sit with us for a moment.  We can befriend our emotions and ask them to let us know what they are trying to tell us.  Consider befriending one powerful emotion that might scare you a little and write about it unfiltered for 5 minutes or 5 pages.  Set it aside afterwards, sense into your body, place a hand on the space in the body where the mind is drawn to and simply ask yourself “What do I need right now?”.  Listen deeply to the response and follow through on the request.
  2. Educate yourself.  It is a personal belief of mine that education is vital to the growth of not only the individual but the collective consciousness of the world.  Education does not need to come in the form of “formal, higher education” although it is an option.  However, we can take immediate steps to educate ourselves more on systemic social injustice through reading books, watching movies, listening to podcasts, and/or visiting websites.  Please consider committing some time to broadening and deepening your growth by challenging hidden implicit biases.  Below I have provided some options to consider:
    • Books:
      • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
      • How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
      • So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
      • How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide by Crystal Fleming
      • White Rage; the Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson
    • Movies:
      • Just Mercy (2019)
      • Rosewood (1997)
      • Harriet (2019)
      • Selma (2014)
      • Queen & Slim (2019)
      • The Hate You Give (2018)
      • 12 Years A Slave (2013)
      • Hidden Figures (2016)
    • Podcasts:
      • 1619
      • Code Switch
      • United States of Anxiety
      • The Stoop
      • Still Processing
    • Websites:
  3. Have a difficult conversation. Talking about racial inequity may be difficult, yet they are mission critical to lasting change.  Thoughtful conversations with an open heart allows differences in perspectives to be heard and validates a person’s lived experiences through being seen and felt.  Knowing and honoring the fact that the conversation will bring discomfort is a good starting point, one that might open the door.  Invite your curious part to lead the dialogue, asking open ended questions.  Asking your judgmental part to take a short vacation is also helpful.  Keep in mind one of the habits from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book of ‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood’ as a good mantra for keeping the door open during these conversations.
  4. Take political action.  The most powerful way to get our voices heard when change is needed is to vote, so it is my hope that if you only set one intention this month, let it be to show up at the polls on November 3, 2020.  In the meantime, perhaps you contact your local or state leaders by sending a letter or making a call to voice your concerns and desire for change.  Another option to consider is to simply sign a petition or two as there is powerful energy behind adding your name to a cause.  Petitions are one of the rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Here are a few to consider:
  5. Safely join a protest.  The protests that have arisen recently in response to the violent effects of the deeply ingrained social inequity represent a wave of change that hopefully will not be silenced or ignored any longer.  The people showing up to protest truly reflect the diversity of America, including white allies.  If you consider joining one, please do so carefully, respecting the rights of all during this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas from the Planets during the Eclipse Retrograde Season

The Eclipse Season is upon us this month and it brings 5 planets in retrograde (with a 6th planet (Neptune) being added in retrograde from 6/22-6/24!), so I thought we might take the lead from the Universe at this time to guide us on our journeys within this month!

When a planet slows down in its rotation and appears to be moving backward (retrograde) in the sky, the energy of that planet encourages us to slow down with it, reflect, and recognize how that energy is manifesting within us on an internal level.  This means the work we do now will create shifts in our inner world, to prepare us for the outward expression once these planets begin to rotate faster and go direct again.

On the other hand, eclipses tend to accelerate the pace of change, offering dramatic turning points to motivate us to get us moving forward and into action.  They tend to shine light on the areas of our life that need to change to elevate our consciousness.

Therefore, combining the accelerated energy of the 3 eclipses with the slower energy of the retrograde planets, we have a fantastic opportunity to burn through anything that has been holding us back if we are willing to dig deep!

Below I provide an intention-setting idea from each of the 5 planets that are retrograde this month.  If one of them speaks to the depth of your soul, have your journal (or shovel?) ready, as the eclipse energy will ease the excavation of what is no longer serving you, and thus the universe.  I hope you will consider trying one!

  1. Pluto Retrograde (4/25-10/4).  Pluto is the planet that represents death, destruction and rebirth and it has been very active since October until is recently went retrograde at the end of April.  This retrograde cycle is a very spiritual time and is asking us to reflect on what it is we would like to see rebirthed personally or in the world.  Consider asking the questions ‘What needs to be transformed?’ and ‘What is it safe for me to let go of now?’ and use your journal to write or draw your response or vision for moving forward.
  2. Saturn Retrograde (5/10-11-9/29).  Saturn is the planet that represents social expectations, such as rules, boundaries, structure, authority, hard work, and discipline.  This retrograde cycle will be asking us to reflect on where have we been guided to set boundaries or, perhaps, to knock them down.  Consider asking yourself the question “What boundary have I set for myself that is holding me back on my journey?” and use your journal to explore how it served you in the past but have now discovered it is outdated.
  3. Venus Retrograde (5/13-6/25)  Venus is the planet that represents love, relationships, beauty, pleasure, creativity and art and it rules over the divine feminine.  This retrograde cycle will be encouraging us to reflect on old heart wounds in order to move us through the heartache and towards forgiveness, so we can live heart-led lives with more ease.  Consider taking a moment to place your right hand over your heart and asking yourself “What do I need right now?” and then writing down in your journal whatever comes up without filtering it.  Our analytical mind tends to hold us back from expressing ourselves authentically, from our essence that resides in our heart chakra, for fear of judgment.  Now is the time to honor your needs and by doing so, clearing space for your heart energy to expand!
  4. Jupiter Retrograde (5/14-9/12).  Jupiter is the planet that represents luck, growth, opportunity and abundance and rules over expansive areas such as beliefs, law, religion, intuition and culture.  This retrograde cycle will be pushing us to examine our views of the world, our vision of truth and our connection with global humanitarian issues.  Consider posing the question “What limiting beliefs do I hold that were forced upon me by my environment?” and letting your intuition guide you to rewrite those beliefs.  When we allow ourselves to sit at the feet of our inner guru, we create space for growth and expansion by removing any obstacle that has been holding us back.
  5. Mercury Retrograde (6/18-7/12).  Mercury is the planet the represents communication, e-commerce and movement and rules the mind, learning, knowledge, and helping us to make sense of what we hear and manage what we say.  This retrograde cycle will inspire us to delve into the past to reconsider our attitudes and will offer space to sort through our emotions and rearrange our inner dialog.  Perhaps now is a time to reflect on how we are choosing to talk to ourselves, exploring the question “What judgments am I placing on myself that are weighing me down?” so any repressed emotions can be felt and dealt with, maybe by giving them some air time to be heard through writing in your journal.  It is vital to your health to honor your emotions and nurture the sanctuary of your heart, so replacing the judgment with soothing self-talk and inviting in soothing self-care practices will be important during this time.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Honor the New Normal

National Mental Health Month

The COVID-19 virus has taken a lot away from how we experienced the world in the past, so there is much to grieve.  And grief is heavy.  It can make us feel like we are walking in quicksand or moving through molasses.  Our thoughts lost in a thick fog.  It takes time to navigate all the emotions that present themselves and sort through the thoughts that grow from the uncertainty.

So to help us all move through the collective conscious grief the world is currently experiencing, I thought it was important to honor National Mental Health Month by looking for the silver linings Mother Earth is calling on us to see at this time.  After destruction, comes construction.  After the rain, comes the sun and rainbow.  After the dark night, comes the light of day.

So, take a moment to consider the following intention-setting ideas being offered to us by Mother Earth to honor the silver linings that may define our new normal moving forward:

  1. Better public health hygiene.  Consider the benefits of the international attention given to the proper way to wash your hands.  This ongoing world campaign has raised the collective consciousness to a new level.  Back in 2008, October 15th was designated Global Handwashing Day to raise awareness that washing our hands with soap is a key factor in disease prevention, specifically to reduce respiratory and intestinal diseases by 25-50%.  With the heightened level of fear currently, perhaps we are taking this advice more seriously and will continue the practice of frequent, proper hand washing or using the hand sanitizers that are being installed in more public spaces.
  2. Healthier greeting rituals.  Do you know the history of the handshake as a greeting?  Perhaps take a moment to do a little research on it.  From there, consider how you might want to begin your own ritual for greeting someone you meet for the first time without physical contact to reduce the spreading of germs.  I personally always struggled with hand shaking, especially when I had to be taught how to do it right!  I much prefer to use Namaste, the age-old traditional greeting in India.  Namaste simply invites the palms together at the heart center with the thumbs close to or touching your heart center (aka Anjali mudra) as you tilt your head forward and say ‘Namaste’.  Perhaps you might prefer the traditional Japanese greeting of bowing.  Either option will allow us to maintain the physical distance recommended while also demonstrating through our body language that we honor the connection to others.
  3. Respecting Mother Earth.  Someone shared something with me recently that moved me deeply.  I was reminded that the trees are the earth’s lungs, as they inhale carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen (aka photosynthesis) for us to breathe.  With the increased worldwide number and severity of fires we experienced last year, we burned Mother Earth’s lungs.  So is it really so surprising that she would push back with a respiratory disease that brings us high fevers and shortness of breath?  She is crying out for our collective attention and respect.  And when we could not figure out ourselves how to work together to reduce climate change, she created a situation that no country could ignore and forced our hands to join forces.  With the drastic reduction in cars on the roads, airplanes in the sky, and boats on the water, look how she is rewarding us with cleaner air and clearer water.  And, although these observations will be temporary, might they be drastic enough to support major infrastructure and/or societal changes to support Mother Earth’s intention to help us thrive?  Might we all agree to set this as a collective intention?.
  4. Working from home.  The benefits are many, running the gamut from more individual flexibility to less traffic on the roads.  As we have seen through this crisis, we are finding news way of doing our jobs remotely.  There has been a significant reduction in severe car accidents, so much so many car insurance companies are giving people refunds.  Might companies embrace letting (us) introverts remain working from home on a permanent basis?  If this became the new normal, we would reduce all costs associated with onsite work by somewhere between 25-50% (the guestimate of the number of introverts), such as the wear-and-tear on our roads, pollution (both air and noise) office space, gas, and car repairs, none-the-less the boost in our mental and emotional health from eliminated time stuck in traffic and away from our families.  Productivity and job satisfaction has been shown to increase in an environment that supports less distractions and sick time is reduced.  And, oh by the way, less people in the office means less sick people in the office which equals less spreading of germs! What do we really have to lose?!
  5. Back to Basics.  This time has challenged all of us to really reflect on what we will end up missing in our lives by being forced to pause for longer than a moment.  It brings to mind the mantra, less is more.  It provides each of us an opportunity to create a new baseline measurement of what we sense feeds our souls versus simply filling our lives with distractions.  As we are finding ourselves getting back to the basics of what is needed for good physical health, including regular sleep, conscious eating and daily exercise, we can give ourselves permission to decide for ourselves what truly nourishes our mental, emotional and spiritual health,  Doing less and being more supports Mother Earth, reduces our stress, invites peace of mind, and supports a deeper connection with ourselves and others.  When we can learn to simplify our lives, living with less and loving the freedom it brings, we can truly understand that less is more!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Spread Hope

National Month of Hope

At the time of this writing, most of the country has been instructed to follow physical distancing guidelines and/or an order to “stay-at-home” to battle the unprecedented spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Although such mandated imposed physical isolation guidelines may be critical to the physical safety and health of many during such a pandemic, it is wrecking havoc on the mental health and well-being of all of us.As humans, we all have a basic need for connection, as connections have been essential for survival historically.  We also have a need for meaning in our lives, having a purpose or reason to get us up in the morning and move us forward, no matter what chaos may be swirling around us.  Some of these basic human needs are being challenged right now.

So, I thought it might be helpful at this time to highlight the fact that April is the National Month of Hope and offer some intention-setting ideas to spread hope.  At some level, I don’t think the timing of these two events is ironic.  Mother Nature has always been the great equalizer and demands our respect.  It seems that when there is an extended period of a lack of respect, she stirs something up to create a global shift to wake us all up!

Now, more than ever, might be a time to re-invite such respect into our lives as it can be a powerful guide to our ever evolving purpose and subsequent behaviors.  Perhaps we might recommit ourselves to such purposes as a healthier world, a more diverse, interconnected community, or a more just society that works towards reducing the suffering of others.  When we are able to clearly define our purpose, it brings hope as it can anchor and steer us in establishing and working toward goals that bring more meaning to our lives.

In addition, there has been much research on the impact of connection, purpose, meaning and hope on our health and well-being.  Hope is the spark that ignites our internal fire, while having a purpose that brings deeper connection and meaning is the gentle breeze that fans the flames of that fire, keeping our light vibrant and bright.  Hope keeps the collective light on during the dark times of such a global shift.  So, what can we do to spread hope now to increase the current of connective energy needed to move us through these dark moments in time?  Below are some intention-setting ideas to try this month:

  1. Use Social Media.  Consider setting an intention to post words of hope on your social media outlet of choice.  Perhaps challenge yourself to see if you can do so for the next 30 days. Or you might share a personal story when you overcame a difficult time, providing a source of inspiration to others that might be experiencing an increased sense of fear and anxiety at this time.
  2. Write Cards or Letters to Loved Ones.  If you are not a big social media user (like me!), perhaps set an intention to write a card or letter containing words of hope to someone you care about that you are unable to see in person at this time.  Personal, heart-felt written words may provide a longer-lasting effect, as they are a more tangible representation of your connection, that is available to be read again anytime that person might need a reminder that they are not alone.
  3. Reach Out to Keep Others Informed.  Stress can tend to make us focus on the negative and fear can make us withdraw even more from the world.  The simple act of reaching out to someone to keep them informed signals to them that they are important to you, that they are not alone, and provides you with an opportunity to express your concern for their well-being.  Even if the information may be considered negative, the act of sharing it demonstrates that you are not only thinking about yourself, but are thinking of them.  During this time, if you come across some news that brought you a sense of hope, consider sharing it with others in order to remind them that not all hope is lost and this too shall pass.
  4. Contribute Kindness and Encouragement.  Say “thank you” often.  We are being asked to rely more on virtual communication at this time to stay connected, so consider setting an intention to demonstrate the power of a sincere ‘thank you’ in each connection you make.  Feeling heard and valued by others can bring comfort when we are feeling unsettled, lonely or scared.  Hearing words of appreciation encourages us to continue what we are doing and reinforces our sense of purpose, inviting hope (Helping Others by Providing Encouragement), acceptance and meaning.
  5. Take Care of Yourself.  The world needs us at our best right now, which demands us to step up our self-care efforts.  Taking care of ourselves empowers others to do the same.  Because many of our sources for connection and well-being are closed right now, consider returning to the basics of health and well-being, which includes sleep, eating healthy, exercising the body and mind, and deep breathing.  When you take deep breaths, it facilitates the reduction of negative stress chemicals in the body and supports an increase in the positive ones the invite calmness into your entire system.  From the emotional shift that is a result of your own deep breathing, you are in a better position to help others who might need some support in making that same emotional shift.  So, if you are one of the many of us that struggle to prioritize our self-care, perhaps set an intention to spend some time reflecting on what self-care means to you.  Unfortunately, many of us were taught to think that self-care is selfish.  However, as the airlines inform us during each flight’s physical safety instructions, we must put on our own oxygen mask first, before helping others to ensure we are available to help others.  So, when you are able to maintain your own health (emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical), it is much easier to support and spread hope to others!

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Reduce Inflammation During Times of Transition

The experience of the season of Spring seems to reflect Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote above – and, no wonder, Spring might be the most eagerly awaited change of seasons of the year for many of us!

At the same time, did you know that it is also the time of year when suicides peak?

Researchers are beginning to uncover why this world-wide trend might exist.  Adam Kaplin, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at Johns Hopkins, suggests that there is overwhelming evidence that links inflammation to depression and suicide.  One of the sources of inflammation is seasonal allergic reactions, with chances of depression being 42% higher for people with rhinitis.  So, although Spring may, at first glance, seem full of rebirth and like a welcomed time of transition, it too comes with the reminder that all transitions come with challenges.

So, although you might not be currently experiencing depression (or suicidal thoughts), becoming aware of the impact that inflammation has on the body and mind can help to support you through this seasonal change, as well as other times of significant change, such as navigating the stress of moving or from the loss of a job.

Please consider the following intention-setting ideas to support your immune system, especially when navigating transitional times which tend to increase the experience of inflammation in the mind and body:

  1. Nasal cleansing.  Consider investing in a Neti pot and trying a daily practice of washing out the irritants from your nasal passages.  Using a sterile water and salt mixture has been shown to reduce sinus inflammation and the symptoms of an itchy nose, sneezing, sinus headaches and the long dreaded sinus infections.  This practice can also be used to prevent and treat symptoms of colds and the accompanying inflammation, since it takes 8-12 hours for a cold virus to replicate within your nose.  If you are hesitant to try out this practice (and who wouldn’t be a little scared to fill your nose with water as we are humans for goodness sake and not fish!), check out some of the videos on YouTube to get tips on how to overcome the fear.  My suggestion would be to start a practice now before the pollen levels grow even more!
  2. Legs-Up-The-Wall.  Known as Viparita Karani in Sanskrit, this restorative yoga shape supports and strengthens your immune system, among many other benefits.  It can be done anywhere, including the back of any door in your home or office.  The longer you hold it, the greater the reduction in stress (AKA inflammation), in both the mind and body.  Perhaps holding this shape for 10 minutes each day for a week and sense into the difference it might make in your energy levels, clarity of thoughts, and quality of sleep.
  3. Alter what you eat. There is much written about the impacts of the types of fuel you add to your body, so it is not my intention to promote any specific “diet” out there.  I’m offering the suggestion to consider adding one or perhaps two new “premium” sources of energy to your existing routine.  For example, adding foods that are rich in antioxidants, known as polyphenols, has been shown to reduce inflammation.  These foods include onions and red grapes, the spice turmeric, and green tea.  Consider simply adding one of these each day for one month.  Another example is adding more omega-3 fatty acids, which includes olive oil, ghee, flaxseed oil, and fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel into your meals.  Now you can’t convince me to eat sardines, but I have switched over to ghee, so perhaps you might too!
  4. Immerse yourself in a Sound Bath.  What is a sound bath you might ask?  Well, it is an experience where you listen to sounds that are soothing to the nervous system.  Music has been shown to ‘speak’ to the body’s autonomic nervous system, the part of our nervous system that controls the unconscious functions of our bodies, such as our heart beat, and reduce the level of cortisol (i.e., the stress hormone).  It has also been shown to improve the body’s immune system functioning, have a positive effect on the brain, and enhance cognition.  Perhaps take a moment now and do a search in your area for the next Sound Bath event at a local yoga studio, health spa, or holistic practitioner’s office space and schedule it in your calendar.  If you are sensitive to sounds, consider trying a one-instrument sound bath, such as Crystal Singing Bowls or Gongs first.
  5. Practice meditation.  Both meditation and self-compassion practices have been shown to reduce stress-induced inflammation.  Consider finding an online self-compassion meditation that resonates with you and implement a daily practice, perhaps each night before going to bed.  If you would like to read a little bit more about how meditation reduces inflammation, check out this article from HuffPost.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas For Supporting Diversity and Inclusivity

Celebrating National Black (Afro-American) History Month!

Why is it important to promote Black History Month?  Well, I believe, as did Gandhi, that it is our ability to embrace diversity that reflects the highest aspects of being human and defines the very fabric of our nation.  This month is an opportunity to recognize the central role blacks played in our history of the United States.  This month has been set aside so that we may broaden our awareness, deepen our understanding and choose to celebrate and thank those contributors!

Consider the following intention-setting ideas to try this month in our efforts to elevate the collective consciousness of the world:

  1. Embrace Diversity.  Embracing diversity challenges our ability to accept and respect differences.  Each person is like a snowflake, unique yet similar.  When we lean into embracing our uniqueness, we also need to explore our differences in a safe and nurturing environment.  Embracing goes beyond simple tolerance and taps into our innate ability to feel empathy and compassion for one another as humans.  Perhaps consider a conscious practice to move from acknowledging to embracing diversity, such as:  1) Shifting the cultural value meter on the scale of dependence/independence to the middle point of interdependence, appreciating that all of humanity is interdependent; 2) Practice mutual respect when confronted with cultural practices that are different from yours; and 3) Acknowledge the institutionalization of discrimination which creates an unequal playing field.
  2. Own Your Bias!  We all have them!  We live in a judgmental culture and learn to compare ourselves to others from a very young age.  It is only through becoming more aware of our learned biases that we can begin the practice of discernment instead of judgement.  In addition, research has shown that we have a natural tendency to hide biases from ourselves.  So consider setting an intention to explore your biases, by visiting Harvard’s Implicit Bias site here and taking one or more of the online tests.
  3. Acknowledge Holidays.  Last month marked the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., with many businesses closed in honor of his contributions to the world.  How did you celebrate this day?  January also included the Chinese New Year (January 25th – a Metal Rat year!) – again, how might you have honored this holiday?  To support your expanding awareness of diversity, perhaps start by simply recognizing that people celebrate a variety of holidays and set an intention to take an interest in the traditions that are included in such holidays.  Perhaps you ask someone what holidays they celebrate and explore one ritual that is included with them?  Or you add some new holidays to your calendar and research them when the day arrives?
  4. Get to Know Someone Different Than You.  This intention-setting idea might be a little more challenging.  Consider actively looking for opportunities outside of your familiar circle to expose yourself to new experiences.  Volunteer work is a great way to find people of all backgrounds and abilities with similar passions.  Or you might invite a neighbor over so that you might get to know them on a deeper level, coming from a place of curiosity.  Travel also lends itself to exploring different cultures.  There are many benefits to leaning into our differences, including but not limited to reducing fear (think increasing love, peace and compassion), increasing creativity, and personal growth.
  5. Read ‘White Fragility’.  This book is written by a corporate diversity trainer (who happens to be white) with the intention to challenge the responses white people have when their participation in racism is revealed.  So, for those of us privileged white people (me included), consider reading this book to deepen your understanding how all white people are racist so that you might make different choices as you move through the beautiful rainbow world we all inherited.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!

5 Intention-setting Ideas to Support Change

I believe most of us have thought to ourselves “I hate change” at least once in our lives.  And the message we often hear is “Change is hard”.  Perhaps it is these messages, thoughts, and/or beliefs that underlie the approximate success rate of 10% for the New Year resolutions set at this time of year!

On the other hand, we know that change is inevitable and constant – perhaps the only experience we can count on to always be there.  The hope that comes from the trust in change is that we don’t get stuck in a rut.  However, the universe invites us to be co-creators of the changes we want to make in our lives.  This co-creation requires us to commit to learning new things . . . whether that is to learn to do something new or to learn something new about ourselves.

We are very supported at this time to initiate the process of change due to the fact that we are in the midst of a current Eclipse Gateway.  Eclipses support growth and the 2 weeks between the Solar Eclipse (12/26/9) and the Lunar Eclipse (1/10/20) is a potent time for transformation and renewal.  So, if you might want to catch the wave of energy, consider trying the following intention-setting ideas to support change this month:

  1. Reframe Change.  Perhaps consider simply reframing change as growth – or a growth opportunity – as it will help move you in the direction of embracing change versus denying its value.  You still have a choice, whether to take the growth opportunity or not.  As we begin to lean into the process of change or growth, we must also recognize the loss it creates.  If we decide to try something new, it often means that something we were familiar with falls away, even if it is due to the limits of time or resources.  Therefore, it is important to honor our feelings around the loss and even doubt that might arise around whether we made the right choice for our growth.  In those moments, reminding yourself that all of our choices bring with them information to help guide us toward our highest good will soothe the doubt, so you can’t make a bad one!
  2. Embrace Emotions!  Fear is often underlying the sense of loss of the familiar and doubt in the process of change, so it is important to look fear in the face.  Remember, emotion (even fear) is simply [E]nergy in [motion], which means turning to look at it even for a moment, instead of distracting yourself or running from it, changes it immediately!  Inviting your greatest fear, and its various emotional friends, such as anxiety, anger, or sadness, to sit for a moment with you so you might listen to what it has to say, will begin to bring clarity around what it is that you value most in life, not what others have told you in the past.  Emotions are one of the most powerful guides on our journey to discover our highest self.  Consider allowing your emotions to participate in your decision-making process and use their energy to guide you forward toward fulfilling your heart’s true desires!
  3. Think Small.  We tend to set lofty new year resolutions and when we don’t experience immediate results, we might get discouraged, providing fuel to our fears.  I like to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  So, perhaps consider a very small change you would like to make in your life, and put it on your calendar every day, so you can track your progress.  For example, you might decide to add more walking to your daily routine.  Consider starting with very specific, yet small goals, such as parking further away from the stores you visit, taking the stairs at work or walking around the block.  Then each day, check it off your list when you achieved the goal and celebrate in some way, even if only to say out loud to yourself “See, I told you I could do it!”
  4. Find a Partner.  Whether your heart desires more peace, health, happiness, clarity, or love, change or growth requires you to transform into someone different than who you are currently.  Having someone support you on your journey of transformation is very helpful.  This person can be a source of encouragement when you sense discouragement creeping in.  They can challenge the fear that works to disconnect you from your highest self.  They can help to hold us accountable as well as provides support when we do begin to sense the discomfort that comes with change.  Discomfort is part of the process of change so having a partner to share those experiences of discomfort with can make us feel less alone on our journey.  Consider identifying someone in your life that might be willing to be that support partner for you, someone that believes in you and will help you embrace the growth your desire.
  5. Visualize.  It is important to visualize the change you desire, because if you can’t imagine the change you want, how do you know what direction to start out in on your journey?  Visualizing the result of your efforts to change or grow will support the discovery process.  Remember too that discovery is not a linear, straight line.  Often, it involves taking a winding road that might make you feel a little lost for awhile.  In those moments of disorientation, bringing your visualization back into mind will remind you of the value of change or growth, deepening your understanding of your heart’s desire and refueling the process of change.  Perhaps consider a tool to document your visualization, whether it is to draw it out, write it down, or create a vision board, so that you might reflect on your heart’s desire each day.  This practice will ease the integration of the new steps you are taking to co-create the new you!.

As always, if you try any of these intention-setting ideas for holistic health, I would love to hear about the impact they might have had for you.  Please send me an email at linda@sanctuary4compassion.com to share!